See it, believe it. Stuart Warren-Hill on the Eigenharp

Award winning Stuart Warren-Hill talks about working with the Eigenharp and Holotronica.

Stuart Warren-Hill is a pioneering audio-visual artist. He's been creating award winning works for the last 15 years, merging video and sound together. As part of duo Hextatic, he released the first complete audio visual album. He's also one of the founding creatives behind the Big Chill festival.

“I was involved in the Big Chill when it started, sort of running the visuals. I'm proud of how that's taken off. I was doing visuals with my mates, I feel like I was part of the inception of it. It's become this big boutique festival that seems to have inspired loads of other festivals. I'm proud of having some involvement in that.”

Personal career highlights to date include doing visuals for David Byrne (Talking Heads) at the 1998 Lisbon Expo – seen by an audience of 100 000. He's also won an editing award at Cannes for a video called Timber, with music by band Coldcut.

“What I love about what I do is that the technology is constantly changing, evolving, the way that you can marry the visuals and the music together, so you're always using new tools etc.”

Initially Stuart was using VHS tapes, but times have changed. His new project Holotronica, is moving into exiting new territory, away from video clips into the realms of realtime 3D graphics. He's using Quartz Composer as an engine.

“Now I can create realtime graphics triggered by any instrument really … I was interested in the Eigenharp because it allowed me to control the visuals and the music simultaneously.”

With Holotronica, graphics are taking a front seat. Stuart has developed an Eigenharp compatible visualiser, currently a series of moving cubes that respond to the slightest touch on the instruments keys.

Stuart entered a holographic award ceremony the Musion awards last year and won both his category and the grand prize. He's not used to playing an instrument in front of a crowd, likening the experience to “diving off a cliff using music technology that I hadn't used before live.”

Needless to say, everyone responded to it “really well.”

Stuart has embraced the Eigenharp and can see himself using it in a number of different contexts. He'd like to see it being played as part of a traditional live band and plans to use it as a composition tool.

“To be expressive with visuals and music is a very difficult thing to do and you're stuck with the hardware that you've got, something like this can be lifechangingly brilliant because you can control both. With an instrument that looks like a classical instrument ... It has been made as a performance tool. People will take you more seriously if you're standing up on stage and performing with it. People will get a sense of performance, the Eigenharp will enhance it … (it's a) lovely, lovely thing … innovative and eccentric and potentially brilliant ”

Stuart is hoping to do a showcase for Holotronica in the Autumn with some other acts playing with Musions holographic screen.

“Potentially I can see it being a mind blowing thing and the future of electronic music, it's just another step forward for electronic music, that's how I look at it.”

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